Tribute to excellence and innovation
(This website about Philippine history publishes the Galing Pook tribute to Secretary Jesse Robredo, an honest and down-to-earth government official, whose life has proven to Filipinos that good local governance is possible.)
In 1991, the Local Government Code was passed decentralizing the functions of delivering basic services from the central government to the provinces, the cities, municipalities and barangays. Three years later, in 1994, Galing Pook started recognizing best practices in local governance by local government units based on impact, citizen participation, innovation, replicability and sustainability.
During that year, Naga City, under the leadership of Jesse Robredo, garnered its first Galing Pook awards for outstanding local governance program. To date, Naga City has received a total of 14 Galing Pook awards (7 outstanding, 3 trailblazing and 4 special citations). It is now the most awarded LGU in the country from the prestigious Galing Pook Awards Program.
Taken all together, these awards give us 10 lessons and guideposts to practicing good local governance (according to Jesse Robredo and Naga City).
1. Improve Productivity. Naga City embarked on a program that aimed to bring out the full potential of various departments and offices of the entire city government. Guided by the vision of a greater Naga by 1998 when the city marked its 50th anniversary, the program focused on four main thrusts of (a) providing sufficient services to meet the requirements of the population; (b) getting optimum outputs with minimum expenditures; (c) producing quality results as desired and planned; and (d) making services accessible and acceptable on the principle of “the greatest good for the greatest number.”
2. Computerize. The city created an effective and efficient management system that streamlined business transaction processes, provided a dependable database for more effective decision-making, and make the city administration more responsive to its citizen’s needs.
The program components – management information system, geographic information system and minimum basic needs database – enabled the city government to establish a local database of household population for every barangay. It computerized the key activities of the city government. Support functions were ensured in all line departments integrating revenue generation and social development to be able to deliver excellent services to the constituents.
3. Empower the People. The city government laid down a clear and comprehensive framework that allows its constituents to take active part in governance. Nagueños are able to voice their concerns and suggestions to the City Hall and act on various issues – from procurement to budgeting, to scuttling an initial plan of the local government to set up a golf course.
The program facilitated the engagement of 193 non-government and people’s organizations with the local government. It led to the institutionalization of the Naga City People’s Council which counts NGOs, POs, cooperatives, barangays, and everyone whose voices need to be heard, as members.
4. i-Govern. The city operationalized the “power of information” and its value as a truly empowering tool when made accessible for the people. Nagueños need only to go online for their business license, birth certificate, or even when they want to bid for government procurements. People get what they need faster and more efficiently, practically free from red tape and opportunity to extract grease money. Through i-Governance, Naga City also promotes good governance by providing the people with information on city government policies, programs, and operations.
5. Reinvent Institutions. In the reinvented school board of Naga City, the structure is able to ensure transparency, accountability, participation, and predictability. The membership has been expanded to include representatives from the academe, business, religious, alumni associations, and non-government organizations. Each member has the right to vote and they make up the community advisory board.
Departing from its traditional role of recommending changes in the name of public schools and endorsing promotion of education officials, the NCSB now prepares local education plan and budget with strong citizen participation. A system has been institutionalized to make financial management, procurements and even recruitment of teachers more transparent. NCSB made education officials accountable to the public. The NCSB also identified alternative ways of developing and financing the local education plan by mobilizing internal and external resources.
6. Train the Youth. The City Youth Month Program of Naga engaged the city’s top youth leaders to compete for the chance to land in one of the 45 slots that would put them at the executive and legislative positions, as well as in the non-government sector as Naga City People’s Youth Council representatives that embody Naga’s unique participatory governance model. While there are limits to the authority extended to the City Youth Officials during their term, they are given a wide leeway in running the affairs of the city government. The project enhanced greater involvement of the youth in government affairs. It allowed intelligent and responsible youngsters to experience how government operations are managed. It promotes proper planning and implementation of projects with the involvement of the youth.
7. Be Prepared Always. Started in May 1991, Emergency Rescue Naga addresses the urgent need for fast and reliable service in times of emergency. ERN provides 24-hour quick response medical and protective services to all Naga City residents in crisis situations. The program mobilizes the combined resources of the city government such as the police and fire departments, the local association of barangay councils, government-owned and private hospitals and schools, radio stations, local amateur radio groups and private medical volunteers. ERN provides emergency rescue and transfer, first aid, ambulance service, quick police response, traffic control, firefighting, promotion of safety awareness, and disaster preparedness and risk mitigation.
8. Prioritize the Marginalized. Like the government of every urbanizing city and town in the Philippines, Naga City was faced with the challenges posed by the informal settlers. To address the issue in a way that is fair for both the informal settlers and landowners and that will discourage informal settling for good, the city launched the Kaantabay sa Kauswagan or Partners in Development Program in 1989. The program is guided by two key principles. First, the government will not help the urban poor unless they actively participate in solving their own problems. Informal settlers have to organize, settle their own boundary disputes, negotiate with landowners, and make down payments for their home lots with substantial support from the city government together with its three partner NGOs. Second, is the tripartite effort among the urban poor organizations, national and local government agencies, and landowners in which the interests and abilities of each party are taken into account.
9. Invest in Children. Evolving from the traditional day care services of the DSWD and complemented by the Montessori system in pre-school education, the comprehensive and innovative program addresses the need for improved access and equity in quality education for the young city residents. It was conceptualized by the city government, in cooperation with the parents association, barangay councils and NGOs. Since its inception in 1992, the NEED program has successfully revolutionized the concept of the day care service in Naga City forging a high level of synergy between program managers and participants. It established a total of 54 day care centers, improved the performance of the graduates as they advance to the elementary level, and rendered comprehensive services to its beneficiaries. More importantly, the program has facilitated the integration of differently-abled children in the mainstream of society.
10. Together, We Can Do Better. The Metro Naga Development Council, a partnership among the LGUs, pools together the efforts and resources of 13 local government units, the private sector and the national government agencies in Camarines Sur focusing on projects and activities which address the immediate needs of the community and lay the groundwork for the long-term growth in the area. MNDC, with specific task forces, focuses on the maximization of resources to reach more constituents widening the target coverage with practically the same logistical capacity.
Source: Lorenzo Ubalde